TAMPA — Having tied each other twice this season, overtime seemed inevitable between Cambridge and Seffner Christian in their Tuesday afternoon Class A, District 5 semifinal.
So the last thing Madison Cox, a University of Tampa commit who had already scored two goals, expected late was to have a ball come to her with no defender in range.
“Very surprised,” said Cox.
But with two minutes left Cox did what she does, calmly putting away the scoring chance for a 3-2 Cambridge victory. The hat trick gives her 23 goals for the season.
The Lancers (10-2-3) face host Carrollwood Day in Friday’s 3:30 p.m. final. CDS got past Bishop McLaughlin 3-0 in the second semifinal.
Seffner Christian tied Cambridge with just five minutes left when Elizabeth Hammontree pounced on a loose ball.
“When they scored I thought ‘Great, we’re gonna have to go to overtime,’ ” Cox said. Both regular-season games ended 1-1.
But freshman Kristin Paskert pounded a fantastic long ball on the ground that sent in Cox, who essentially dribbled it into the net.
“She’s calm. She’s fast. She’s our star player,” said coach Danilo Felix.
Hustling after a ball the wind helped blow back toward her, Cox made it 1-0 midway through the first half. But SCA (7-6-4) drew even when Treasure Richardson blocked an attempted clearance right into the net. Cox scored three minutes before the half, assisted by Kendall Marra, one of four eighth-graders in the lineup for Cambridge.
Ashtyn Leep and Hammmontree combined for six of SCA’s seven shots in the evenly played second half.
Bishop McLaughlin only had four victories, all against winless teams, but the ’Canes hung tough with the top-seeded hosts. A scoreless first half changed quickly when CDS (10-3-1) got two goals in the last two minutes.
It took Lauren Meaney’s brilliant fakes and equally impressive 20-yard shot to open scoring, followed by an even longer strike from Carli Gauthier.
Virginia Tech-bound Alexis Schweitzer picked out Meaney for her second goal — yet another shot from outside the penalty box. The Patriots outshot Bishop McLaughlin 26-2, with Gauthier getting off 11 shots and Schweitzer, though playing defense, second with eight.
Bishop McLaughlin deserves credit for its gutsy play. Though coughing up a storm, an ailing Shanon Teicher stayed in as long as she could, finally coming out at the hour mark. But when a teammate was hurt, Teicher had to re-enter as the ’Canes (4-13) only dressed 12 players.
Jacklyn Murray made 11 saves, and central defender Sydney Sullivan had some impressive moments in her final high school game.